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Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller review - hands on

Seth Barton
5 Aug 2015
Xbox One Elite Controller
Price when reviewed 
130
inc VAT

Our first play with the expensive new controller leaves us mightily impressed

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Today we got our hands on Microsoft’s shiniest new piece of hardware, the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller. It’s an unwieldy name but the hardware is anything but, it’s like Microsoft has taken the already-excellent Xbox One controller (LINK) and made a money-no-object version of it. And at a staggering £130 it really is only for the rather keen.

It’s not without precedent though, as many third-party manufacturers have been producing modded controllers with many of the same features as the Elite Controller, for prices approaching Microsoft’s - most notably www.scufgaming.com. So just what are you getting for all that extra cash.

In short you’re getting a customisable d-pad and analogue sticks. You’re getting triggers with a hair trigger option, you’re getting up to four additional paddle buttons on the bottom and a bunch of programmable features. So it’s not short on features.

It’s instantly obvious when you hold it that this is a seriously well-engineered bit of kit. It feels weightier and absolutely rigid to any pressure. The grips have a fine textured finish to keep it securely in your hands. One downside is that it still takes AA batteries, we think at this price that Microsoft should through in a rechargable battery pack and cable.

Speaking of cables, the Elite Controller, like the new version of the standard controller, comes with a standard headphone jack built-in, so you don’t need the overpriced adaptor that the original controller required (though that does come with some useful mute and volume controls too, which haven’t been transferred across).

Xbox One Elite Controller - headphone port

The stainless steel analogue sticks feel a little springier, keener to return the centre, and have a slightly more pronounced click as well. They move with incredible smoothness though, showing their more precise engineering instantly. The bumpers also have a more distinct feedback and the face buttons have a slightly heavier action. The triggers feel largely the same, but underneath there are two switches allowing for one of both to be put in hair trigger mode. This makes them instantly respsonsivness with a very short pull - perfect for shooters.

Xbox One Elite Controller - analogue stick

The D-pad has been replaced with an impressively micro-switched action, where you can distinctly feel and hear all eight positions as you rotate it. Both the D-pad and the analogue sticks have removable top plates allowing for further customisation.

Xbox One Elite Controller - d-pad

Underneath there are four slots for the extra paddle buttons, which are held in teh supplied carrry case and magnetically click into place when needed. It’s a great design as the pad is more comfortabl to hold without them, but if you need the added edge of having extra controls, such as reload or crouch, immediately to hand then you can simply click in as many paddles as you need, or your brain can handle.

Xbox One Elite Controller - paddles

The controller will come with an app which lets you further customise your controls. You’ll be able to remap any button to any other button (a feature that’s already available for the standard pad on PS4, and should exist on Xbox One for accessibility reasons if no other), plus you’ll be able to play with the stick and trigger response curves. You can store up to 255 profiles for these on the Xbox and have two in the pad at any one time, with a switch to change between them (so you could have a sniper setup for defensive rounds and a more twitchy SMG rush setup for when on the offensive).

Xbox One controller Wireless adaptor for PC

We also saw the upcoming Wireless adaptor so you can use any Xbox One pad with your PC without a USB cable

So is it better than a current modded device? Well in our experience it certainly feels better made and the controls are sublime. The big plus point is that Microsoft is bound to push it to developers who will then have an API in order to tweak the most competitive titles to get the most out of it. If it can get developers and pro gamers to release their controller setup profiles for games it’ll be onto a winner.

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